Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Huffington Post: Marco Rubio Grills Rex Tillerson On Russia, Ukraine, Syria

The Huffington Post: Marco Rubio Grills Rex Tillerson On Russia, Ukraine, Syria

WASHINGTON ― Former Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson dodged a series of questions from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday about his foreign policy agenda with respect to Russia.

Asked whether he would advise President-elect Donald Trump to enforce sanctions against Moscow for its alleged role in cyberattacks aimed at interfering with the U.S. election, the secretary of state nominee demurred.

Confronted with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, Syria, and against domestic political enemies, Tillerson said he would need more information before agreeing with Rubio’s description of the Russian leader as a “war criminal.”

Tillerson’s ties to Russia, which he developed during his time as an oilman, have been a key point of contention for lawmakers since Trump chose him to serve as the next secretary of state.

In an opening statement during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Tillerson attempted to allay those concerns, telling members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russia “poses a danger” ― but suggested this danger was due to the “absence of American leadership” under the Barack Obama administration.

When lawmakers pressed him on what a stronger U.S. posture toward Russia would look like, Tillerson gave evasive answers. He wouldn’t commit to upholding sanctions against Moscow that the Obama administration has put in place or to supporting the new sanctions legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday.

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